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CBRN and Hazmat Incidents at Major Public Events: Planning and Response by Dan Kaszeta

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SCENARIO H

Suspicious Odors and Unexplained Illness

BACKGROUND

Terrorist CBRN attacks may not manifest themselves in “Hollywood” style, with a flash, a bang, and a big cloud of purple haze. Terrorist CBRN devices that function in a loud, obvious, and scary way are less likely to be effective, as a crowd's natural inclination will be to flee rather than stay put to absorb toxic materials. Some methods of dissemination can be more insidious, such as spray devices or covert release of volatile liquids. Such attacks may or may not be noticed at the time and place of dissemination.

Many CWAs and HAZMAT substances do not have good warning properties (such as distinctive odors) or do not provide obvious signs and symptoms at low concentrations. Even when they do cause signs and symptoms, many of the signs and symptoms are general, such as headache, nausea, or general respiratory irritation. People reporting strange smells and unexplained illnesses should arouse suspicion among responders, but such episodes need to be investigated carefully, as there may be reasons other than terrorism or HAZMAT accidents to explain the situation.

THE SCENARIO

You are responsible for CBRN and HAZMAT response for a major sporting event that is being held at a stadium in your city. A crowd of 72,000 people is expected to attend, which is full occupancy for the stadium. Several thousand staff will be on hand as well. This is the same event as described in the “screening people” scenario. In this scenario, ...

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